Trending News Today: Advocates Push for Manufacturers to Limit High Drug Pricing

Top news of the day from across the health care landscape.

In a recent study, provider directories sold through Covered California were found to be so inaccurate that patients were able to schedule an appointment with a physician less than 30% of the time, reported California Healthline. The study focused on Blue Cross Blue Shield (BCBS) of California and Anthem Blue Cross, including 743 physicians in 5 different regions of California who were listed as primary care physicians in their health plan online directories. The results of the study found that the pseudo-patients who made calls to physicians in June and July of 2015 were met with several obstacles attempting to schedule an appointment. In fact, in approximately 10% of cases, the providers were either no longer with the listed medical group or had never been at all. In 30% of cases, the callers were told the physicians had a different specialty than what was listed in the directory. Twenty percent of the time, the callers were unable to reach the physicians at the numbers provided in the directories because they were disconnected, phone calls and messages went unreturned, or for other reasons.

There are more than 120,000 people on the national waiting list for a kidney or a different organ, but only 30,000 transplants are being performed a year, reported The New York Times. With organ donor shortages being a huge concern, several initiatives have been launched to try and address the issue. According to the United Network for Organ Sharing (UNOS), more than 6000 people died last year waiting for a new kidney, lung, liver, or another organ. The Times reported that several steps are being taken to address the shortage, such as Apple adding a button to its health app in an upcoming software update that links to Donate Life America’s national registry and Georgetown developing an app for smartphones and tablets for donor registration; studies conducted to preserve donated organs longer by pumping them with oxygenated fluids; and $160 million in government funding for regenerative research that could offer alternative therapies.

The rising cost of prescription drugs has remained a controversial topic, as California Health advocates hope that shaming drug manufacturers may discourage them from raising prices too quickly or from introducing new medications at sky high prices, reported The New York Times. Advocates have been promoting legislation that would require drugmakers to provide advance notice before making big price increases; however, it has been met with fierce opposition from pharmaceutical companies that warn it would lead to dangerous drug shortages. The director of state and local policy for California Life Sciences Association, Brett Johnson, stated that drug manufacturing is a highly regulated industry, involving complex supply chains that rely on predictable demand. “This isn’t an industry where they can really react quickly to surges in demand,” Johnson told the Times. “So that creates complications when we’re talking about things like price signaling.”